What Are Inaction Demons?

What are inaction demons?

For most of us, it's easier to neglect things that may cause us anxiety and stress than to get the task done and be productive. Gregg Krech refers to these as inaction demons. What exactly are inaction demons?

Gregg Krech explains what demons of inaction are and how people can prevent them.

Nick: That leads to what I found appealing in your book was the inaction demons and what I used in the subject lines, the email I sent you because I had uncertainty about contacting you and you know, would you reply?

And will you come on my podcast? So I think I wrote my inaction demons didn't let me stop me from contacting you. I think that's a great way to look at our fears and uncertainty regarding inaction. We could see it as a demon.

So do you want to touch on that?

Gregg: Sure. I think that we have all kinds of ways, all kinds of strategies, some of which we've become very skillful at to keep us from doing the things that we need to do in our life.

So when I talk in my book about the demons of inaction, that's a list of those strategies. You can think of that also like just the resistance that we have to do certain things. We gravitate towards doing pleasurable things, we gravitate towards doing things that are easy to do, gravitate towards doing things that have some clarity involved.

But when we're faced with a situation we need to do that stimulates feelings of discomfort or anxiety, or it's confusing, we're not sure how to do it, like how do I fix my microwave. So there's a sense of confusion or not knowing, we tend to avoid those things.

What happens often when we avoid things that are important for us to do is that we develop a skill that we don't want to have, which is a skill or a habit of essentially going with our feelings.

If I don't feel like working on my taxes, I won't do it. If I don't feel like doing the dishes in the sink, I won't do it. So we do the things we feel like doing and we don't do the things we don't feel like doing. 

For me, I think that's the best definition of procrastination.  Procrastination is an issue of how we're dealing with our emotional or feeling state. It's often that we're doing the things that only make us feel good or we think will make us feel good, and we're avoiding the things that don't.

But empowerment is about being able to do the things that we don't feel like doing because they need to be done in our lives. Our lives often end up being better, more successful, we have fewer problems, when we do things that need to be done when they need to be done. We have to learn how to coexist with feelings like anxiety.

If you do taxes, I assume that in Australia, you have some kind of tax reporting system. If people do that, and they find that confusing and complicated, and therefore they try to avoid it and wait till the last minute, and I speak of this from experience, because I was like this for many years, then what you do is you just create more suffering for yourself.

The least amount of suffering is to just do your tax early, get it filed and be done with it. Otherwise, if you wait months, and months, until the last minute, you have all those months to worry about it and be anxious about it. 

So as we're facing things in our current situation, there's probably going to be several things that we're going to have to deal with. We have to be able to coexist with those feelings, while we take whatever steps are necessary in terms of those kinds of issues.

If we do that we'll manage our lives and we'll manage in this case,  coping with the circumstances much more effectively than if we let our feelings paralyse us or if we're constantly looking for a way to transform them into feeling good. 

So there's an underlying assumption that feeling anxious, fearful, lonely, depressed, is part of the human condition, there is no permanent escape from that, it's just part of the human condition.

Rather than try to find some permanent cure, for those kinds of feelings, we learn to live our lives despite those feelings. By doing that, we get a lot more done in our life. It's not just that we're more productive, but we're also more responsible, and in many cases more successful, we cause less trouble and suffering to other people who are counting on us to do those things when we say we're going to do them. 

So it's a great path for taking care of what we need to do in our life. By again, learning how to accept our feelings. We're not talking about denying our feelings, but learning how to accept them. While we're accepting them to move on.

The metaphor that one of my students years ago developed was, it's like going out for a drive in the car and here you have this feeling of fear, so you just pack up your fear in your backpack or your little suitcase, and you take it with you for a ride and it sits in the backseat, while you do the things you need to do your errands and stuff while you're out.

But for many people, anxiety and fear become the driver. We don't want our feeling state to be driving the car of our life. We want to be able to take that car to where it's important. But we also take those feelings with us because they're part of us so they come along for the ride, but they don't prevent us from doing what we need to do while we're out.


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